Three research labs at Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) have been accredited with the Bronze LEAF award which recognises sustainability in waste, people management, and purchasing.
One teaching lab in the Chemistry department has also been accredited.
LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) accreditation brings many benefits including cost and energy savings, as well as increased productivity and collegiality in labs whilst also raising the profile of technicians and lab managers.
It is the largest lab sustainability scheme globally with more than 95 institutions registered in 15 countries.
Evidence gathering within the LEC labs was carried out by Liza Stout (A67 LEC), Dr Clare Benskin (A28 LEC) and Dr Shane Rothwell (A73 LEC).
Since Lancaster University was registered with LEAF in October 2022 by FST Technical Director Helen Quirk, dedicated teams of volunteers have successfully achieved Bronze accreditation in three laboratories in LEC and one laboratory in Chemistry.
With labs in Physics and Engineering also near to submission, there will be at least 12 labs accredited by December 2023, with four of these aiming to progress further to a Silver award.
Dr Annabel Rice, Insect and Animal Biology Technician and Lab Manager at LEC, said: “Our successes have been achieved through collaborations between Departmental Reps at a faculty level and named Sustainability Champions for each laboratory.
“The process of gaining accreditation begins with the lab Sustainability Champion engaging with laboratory users and working towards criteria in categories including waste, people management and purchasing.
“The lab then submits evidence showing how the lab fulfils the criteria.
“Once these criteria have been met, it makes lab life much easier for users.”
Some initiatives that have arisen from LEAF participation include almost half of the labs at LEC gaining a Sustainability Champion, a successful piloting of lab plastics recycling (which it is hoped will be rolled out across Lancaster University in the future), standardised inductions for lab users, and considering sustainability when making purchases.
Annabel said that habits are also changing so that consumables, equipment, and chemicals are being used more sustainably, leading to cost and energy savings.
Work is now underway in Chemistry, Physics and Engineering to encourage labs to get involved and identify key individuals to become Champions.
A nominated person for each lab will be recruited before Christmas, through advertising, promoting the benefits and direct approaches to potential Champions.
Prof Kirk T. Semple, head of department at LEC, said: "Ensuring the University's research activities and lab spaces address the climate emergency is a key requirement for the University to meets its ambitious net zero 2035 target.
“I’m delighted that the LEC technical team are leading the way to make Lancaster’s laboratory use more sustainable.”Back to News